Friday, August 28, 2009


"Making art, it seems to me is a pursuit of one's own voice and the personal visual vocabulary with which to express it". Pamela Allen

Pamela Allen is a delightful Canadian artist whose art quilts are as vibrant and colorful as her personality. She says that teaching young children has convinced her that scale, colour and spatial logic can be her arbitrary choice. An interest in Folk and Outsider art has persuaded her that sincerity of intent carries more impact that sensational technique. Rather than be hampered by a persistent vision of the finished product, Pamela prefers to let the work itself direct the progress of its own development. Her work is truly unique and we hope that you will enjoy this brief look into her life and art as much as we do!


RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO: Morning person or night owl?
PAMELA ALLEN: I am a fright in the morning! Not only am I not functioning on all cylinders until I have my second coffee, but I wake up each day looking like a cockatoo with hair standing straight up. As the morning progresses, I get quite lively, and keep regular studio hours (about 9:30 -4:00) each day. I'll do hand sewing at night in front of the TV too, so I guess the short answer is I am a night person.


RWSS: Dogs, cats or......
PAMELA: Neither, although I like dogs. I seem to set cats on edge!

RWSS: Favorite place you've been or lived?
PAMELA: I have just been to Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, a spectacularly beautiful and peaceful village by the ocean. It is now equal with Tuscany as a favorite destination.


RWSS: Mac or PC?

RWSS: Right or left handed?
PAMELA: Right handed, although it surprises people that I am a left footer when "driving" my sewing machine.


RWSS: Who's on your i-pod?
PAMELA: HaHaHa! We are Luddites in this household. No i-Pod, no cell phone.

RWSS: Favorite quote?
PAMELA: "Nothing great comes easy" something my late beloved step-father used to say.


RWSS: Best advice you've ever received?
PAMELA: "Your first idea is your worst idea". This from a professor in the fine arts department who judged my silk screen to be the WORST of the class! I was annoyed at the time, but have come to realize this is true.

RWSS: Worst advice you've ever received?
PAMELA: "Never let them see you sweat". What dumb advice! We all get nervous, feel inadequate or suffer from insecurities. Better to share one's misgivings than try to pretend you are above it.

RWSS: What do you do to unwind?
PAMELA: I read a lot. I go outside, garden, ride my bike. I visit my best friend in all the world EVERY Wednesday afternoon for wine and good conversation.


RWSS: If you had to choose another career what would it be?
PAMELA: I HAD another career! A lab tech for 12 years. I couldn't face staring down a microscope for the rest of my life, so went to art school at age 30.

RWSS: Are there any of your own pieces that you can't bear to part with?
PAMELA: Hmmmmm I guess I am not too sentimental about my work. I let everything go that may bring pleasure to someone else.



RWSS: Any indispensable tools or equipment?
PAMELA: My favorite tools are:
1) A cross hair laser level. Until I discovered this neat tool, my quilts were never square and hung in a wavy wonky fashion.
2) Dremel tool. I figure anything that can have a hole drilled into it, is embellishment. The dremel is useful for that, as well as smoothing sculpy items and carving little wooden faces etc.
3) A 16" scroll saw. I realize this is not a "must have" for most quilters, but for manipulating wooden shapes and cutting things like wedding cake columns in half, it's great!


RWSS: Best part of your day?
PAMELA: Lunch. My husband is an artist as well and we both go to our respective studios in the morning. At noon, we meet for lunch, talk about what we have been doing at work and generally relax.


RWSS: What would you do with a few extra hours each day?
PAMELA: Catch up on email and business necessities (AARGH!).

RWSS: Do you do anything special for your birthday?
PAMELA: ALWAYS have a special dinner with family and a cake that hubby makes from scratch.


RWSS: Best dessert?
PAMELA: Something gooey, heavy and extreme brownies or sticky toffee pudding.

RWSS: What is the one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
PAMELA: That I have been cutting my own hair for 30 years! Hmmm.... maybe that WOULDN'T surprise them!


RWSS: What's on the horizon for.....
PAMELA: More like a dream than a plan. But I long to visit India.


RWSS: Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
PAMELA: David Attenborough, a man I admire tremendously for his lifetime of bringing quality programs about nature, our planet and unknown places to me. I would just love to go to Turkey with him and find out how he managed the rest of his life, while traveling all over the planet.


RWSS: Any words of wisdom?
PAMELA: In all you do, be fearless.


Pamela's popular DVD titled "Think Like an Artist" is an exploration of three dimensional effects and helps the aspiring artist make the transition from traditionally designed quilts to ART quilts.


To learn more about this entertaining artist and to view more of her fabulous work, please visit her website: Pamelart Quilty Things.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Described as "a poetic expedition into metal" the book This Lustr'ed Cloth has easily become a studio favorite!

Author Alysn Midgelow-Marsden takes textile artists' on a new journey in their constant quest for intriguing surfaces.

Featuring detailed explanations, inspirational ideas and step by step projects this fibre artists' workbook of metals is a wonderful resource.

A comprehensive materials section, surfaces and stitch techniques, pattern, texturing and colouring are all features of this well written guide.

Detailed photographs and an artist showcase will invite you to explore the endless possibilities of working with metals!

Softback, features 58 pages with full color photographs - available now in our on-line store.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009


For artist, teacher and best selling author Rayna Gillman "The joy is in the process". Using paints, dyes, wax and discharge agents to create her own fabrics Rayna is often inspired by family, found and recycled objects, old photos and ephemera. With what seems to be endless energy and enthusiasm, she infuses her students with a sense of joy and experimentation using the phrase "what if"? as a guide. Her fabrics and quilts have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the USA and are in private collections in the USA, France and Belgium. We are delighted to feature this internationally known artist and surface design teacher in our ongoing series In Conversation With Artists and Authors.


RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO: Did you always want to be an artist?
RAYNA GILLMAN: Never. I thought "artist" and "can draw" were synonymous and since my 7th grade teacher told me that I couldn't draw, that was THAT. I never took another art class. Started life as French teacher, then had many interesting careers - none of them "artist" till 8 years ago.

RWSS: Do you have a dedicated studio space?
RAYNA: Yes. I rent space with 6 other artists in an old factory about 15 minutes from home. This doesn't mean I haven't taken over the whole house with my art stuff, however. My husband claims he lives with three other people and they are all named Rayna.


RWSS: Favorite place you've been or lived?
RAYNA: Paris for visiting and happily, I have family there so I'm never completely a tourist. The best place I've lived is Boulder, CO in the early 70's when there were hippies and dirt roads. Even now, when it's overdeveloped, I'd love to spend summers there.


RWSS: Mac or PC?
RAYNA: Mac. When my PC died recently I bought a MacBook. Now I love it.

RWSS: Addicted to blogging?
RAYNA: Can't you tell? I started on a whim almost 5 years ago when I realized I could see my work-in-progress better on the computer screen. It was a way for me to think out loud and it just took on a life of its own. It has changed my life and brought me lots of new friends whom I have actually met in person. It's usually the last thing I do before I go to bed.

RWSS: Favorite quote?
RAYNA: : "If you can't have fun while you're working, what's the point?" R. Gillman 1990.

RWSS: Best advice you've ever received?
RAYNA: Listen to your gut and follow your instincts (my mother).

RWSS: Worst advice you've ever received?
RAYNA: Think about it logically (my husband).


RWSS: Favorite pair of shoes or article of clothing to wear whilst creating?
RAYNA: Bare feet or at most, my old Birkenstocks. Clothing - my husbands old shirts.


RWSS: Do you do anything special for your birthday?
Not since my 60th when I had a party to celebrate being alive after having surgery and chemo for colon cancer just after my 59th b.d. That's when I decided to become a full time artist.


RWSS: Best dessert?
RAYNA: Real key lime pie with real whipped cream, no sugar added.

RWSS: Are there any of your own pieces you can't bear to part with?
RAYNA: Yes, some of the pieces in my Poland series, particularly Last Stop, Prozna Street and Journey. Just about everything else is up for grabs - uh, I mean, for purchase. Recently I sold several the minute they were finished and I'm sort of sorry. On the other hand, when I first started, I said "Oh, I can't part with this" when someone wanted to buy and those pieces are still in my closet. I won't make that mistake again.




RWSS: Does your creative process start with a sketch, a planned course of action or do you throw caution to the wind?
RAYNA: I never plan ahead. I throw fabric at the wall and after the first piece is up, I go from there. I once tried designing a quilt ahead of time and I was so bored I never made the piece. Where's the adventure? It's like planning a trip and knowing exactly where you will be stopping along the way and what you will do when you get there.


RWSS: Would being an artist be as rewarding if you weren't able to teach?
RAYNA: Hmmmm............the rewards are apples and oranges. To me, the artmaking process is its own reward. I love the process and the result is almost anti-climactic. The rewards of teaching are seeing the students eyes light up when they realize they have discovered something new and are having fun doing it! That makes me so happy!

RWSS: What excites you the most right now in the world of surface design?
RAYNA: The endless possibilities of working in layers. I love using screens with ordinary objects as resists and combing thickened dyes an discharge in the deconstructed screen printing process. But that's THIS week -LOL.


RWSS: Best part of your day?
RAYNA: Do I get two answers? Breakfast with my cup of coffee and the New York Times and after dinner - feet up, classical music while I do email and blog.

RWSS: I'd be lost without .........
RAYNA: My family, which goes without saying. For my work: digital camera, computer, copier and Thermofax.


RWSS: Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
RAYNA: Elizabeth Barton, whose intelligent, literate, stimulating blog I love to read and whose work I admire. I'd love to spend the day working with her.

RWSS: What is the one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
RAYNA: That I am an introvert (Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which is always right).


RWSS: Will we see another fabulous book?
RAYNA: I hope so. I've got an idea in the works but everything takes so much time!

RWSS: What's on the horizon for Rayna Gillman?
RAYNA: Besides another book? Some on-line teaching, small classes in my studio, more international workshops and I hope - more time to do creative work.

RWSS: Any words of wisdom?
RAYNA: Do what you love because life is too short!

We are pleased to offer both Rayna's book Create Your Own Handpainted Cloth and her DVD Printing From Your Pantry: Gelatin Monoprinting in our online store.

To learn more about this prolific artist and blogger we encourage you to visit Rayna's website: studio 78 or her blog: studio 78 notes.